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Nov. 5, 2012, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tomorrow, Americans return to the polls, four years after electing Sen. Barack Hussein Obama their commander in chief. Though the incumbent president trails in the polls, his aides still hold out hope that he will be able to engineer an improbable victory.
Dissatisfaction with the depressed economy, America’s tenuous situation abroad and a spate of unpopular Supreme Court decisions led by Obama appointees have led voters to embrace the “change” platform espoused by the Republican nominee, Gov. Sarah Palin. “President Obama promised you change four years ago,” Palin told a screaming crowd in Pennsylvania today. “And he gave you change. A change from bad to worse. Now it’s time for a new kind of change – a kind of change more in line with the Founding Fathers than with the French government.”
Four years ago, such a turn of events would have been almost unthinkable. Riding to victory on a crest of media-generated enthusiasm and uplifting rhetoric rich in messianic allusions, Sen. Obama brought with him a supermajority of Democrats in the Senate and a solid majority of Democrats in the House.
Obama proceeded to replace Justices Kennedy and Ginsburg with Justice Cass Sunstein and Justice Elena Kagan. Sunstein wrote the majority opinion in Degeneres v. California, the decision recognizing a constitutional right for gays to marry under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Kagan wrote the majority opinion in NARAL v. North Dakota, the decision holding that individuals have a right to state-sponsored abortions.
Meanwhile, he negotiated an agreement with Russia to reduce nuclear armaments, though critics claim that the Russian government has failed to meet its obligations. Political opponents also criticize Obama’s move to cut military spending in the face of Russian expansionism in Ukraine and Lithuania.
The war in Afghanistan continues unabated, with critics claiming that troop levels have not been raised significantly since Obama entered office. Gov. Palin has hammered Obama on his failure to capture Osama bin Laden, Obama’s main rationale for the troop cuts in Iraq.
Obama’s quick pullout from Iraq precipitated an enormous humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis displaced and thousands murdered. Iran’s increasing influence in Iraq and Syria’s ongoing development of weapons-grade uranium have put many voters on edge despite Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s insistence that stability will be improved shortly.
Seeking to ease international tensions, Obama met directly with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Ahmadinejad insisted that the Israeli government grant a contiguous state to the Hamas-run Palestinian government, including full control of both its borders and East Jerusalem. Assad insisted that Israel concede the Golan Heights. Obama agreed with the general thrust of the demands and suggested that the Iranian and Syrian proposals be included in a new “roadmap,” to be administered by the United States, France, Russia, China and Britain. Israel has, so far, protested the plan, pointing to the continuing mass terrorism sponsored by Iran and Syria, including the use of crude chemical weaponry.
On the domestic front, the economic downturn precipitated in 2007 by the sub-prime housing crisis has deepened and widened. Obama’s push for higher capital gains taxes and estate taxes has been associated with stagnation in the stock market and continued recession in the real estate market, along with lower government tax receipts. To combat those lowered receipts, and in anticipation of Social Security funding shortages, Obama has raised income taxes on everyone making more than $40,000 per year.
Gov. Palin has pointed at both Obama’s economic policies and his sponsorship of the “Card Check” plan in attacking Obama on the economy. The “Card Check” plan, which discarded secret ballots in union elections, caused union membership to double within the last four years. It has also created higher rates of unemployment. Unemployment currently hovers at about 10 percent, higher than any time during the Bush or Clinton administrations.
To ease unemployment, Obama has pushed for higher benefits and fewer restrictions on length of dependence. He has also pushed his signature Make Work Program, a measure aimed at increasing employment rates through government jobs.
As the leading architect and advocate for the Health Care For All Act through Congress in 2009, President Obama has been blamed for a shortage of incoming doctors and the unavailability of high-quality medical care.
Gov. Palin, who just four years ago was considered by many to be too rough-hewn to make a serious run for the White House, has taken control of the presidential race. The RealClearPolitics poll average puts her up 7.3 points leading into tomorrow’s election.
“This race isn’t over until it’s over,” President Obama told a small crowd in Nevada yesterday. “Four years ago, I asked you to join me in changing the world. We’ve changed the world, and we’re not done yet.”